Living in the desert of Abu Dhabi which usually sees about three, fifteen minute stints of rainfall throughout the year, one begins to appreciate the precious droplets and sometimes, only sometimes, wish it would rain a little more in the Middle East.
Fondly thinking back of all the wet days that passed by unappreciated in Ireland, the children splashing in puddles, hot coffee in city cafes chatting with friends as the rain pelted loudly against the glass and long invigorating walks where an underestimated mist leaves you drenched to the skin and longing for a hot shower. All this replaced by dusty sand and intense heat leaving everywhere the climate in Abu Dhabi as dry as an Arab’s sandal.
Then suddenly ten days ago the heavens opened, a downpour that any coastal town in Ireland would be proud to call their own, descended on Abu Dhabi, washing away all the dust, sand and grime that had lodged in every nook and cranny throughout the year. Relief and rejoice swept across the UAE as the fresh warm rain fell to cool the air slightly from nearing forty degree Celsius. The novelty lasted all day, puddles formed easily in the badly drained roads and walkways of Abu Dhabi, we felt closer to home than ever, first Tayto in the Middle East and now rain, this was as near to Ireland as it gets. Fabulous. Now ten days later, ten days of intermittent showers, ten days of wet shoes traipsing through the house and ten days of damp clothes strewn across a clothes horse, I’m beginning to worry, this is getting a little bit too much like home.
It is unheard of to have such a succession of days with rainfall here in the United Arab Emirates and so being curious of nature I set about finding out more about the sudden change of climate. Expecting to find an answer related to climate change or seasonal shifts as the weather shifts from winter to summer, I was absolutely shocked to hear about “Cloud Seeding”.
Given that my environmental involvement to date was to rinse out a few bean tins and Dolmio jars for recycling, the whole notion of cloud seeding went way over my head, if you’ll pardon the pun. Apparently cloud seeding as a concept is being development since the 1940’s. This act of intentional weather modification is carried out by dispersing silver iodide flares and solid carbon dioxide by airplane though the inflow of a cloud, and Abracadabra, you’ve got rain!
Up to this the only dispersal I learned about was in Science class where the seeds of the dandelion were dispersed by wind but alas the Arab world today has no need to rely on that kind of simplicity. In a land where money is evidently no object the UAE government is able to provide specialized planes and dedicated pilots specifically for this act of chemical dispersal and all to create rain, modify their natural climate and ultimately play God and Mother Nature at the same time.
So the unexpected rainfall over the past ten days is apparently due to the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology here in the UAE, who set about seeding a few clouds on 21st April, thus explaining the subsequent wet patch.
An impressive act especially coming from Ireland where there are committees nationwide left stumped over how to manage overgrown hedges, deepening potholes and sporadic flooding. Not to mention whole Council Authorities left scratching their heads about vacant housing estates, inefficient traffic systems and the cost of water rates in a country that experiences constant and sometimes excessive rainfall. While we don’t share the same purse as the Arabs we could perhaps learn a little from their foresight and their reinvestment process while they make hay.
So kudos to the Emirates, where not only can you find fake Louis Vuitton handbags, but also fake grass, artificial beaches, man-made islands and modified weather conditions, It beggars the question just how much money does Arabia have and if they can produce almost anything, what next?. All the same nice to know that in Ireland we have something they want, rain.